Colourful Kgubetswana . Visit the Kgubetswana stadium to see the group of very talented artists at work on the outside walls. They’ve already added a colourful touch to Tshepong, and to the Vuka Phanda 2 Tuck shop. Absolutely fantastic.
Asclepias stellifera (Common Meadow-star in English & khola-ntja in Sesotho) is member of the Apocynaceae (Milkweed) family and a perennial geophytic herb whose stems grow to 120-300mm tall. One will find this herbaceous species in grassland and often among rocky outcrops at altitudes of 2200 m A.S.L., occurring from the Eastern Cape right through to Botswana.
Break the stem of this guy and your fingers will be covered by milky latex. In almost all cases this says one thing about the seemingly meek little plant: Do not ingest me! I’m toxic! As its name aptly suggests, the florets have been likened to the clichéd rays of stars harking from children’s books.
The flowers of A. stellifera occur in 4’s and have 5 petals enclosed by as many skirt-like sepals. Each petal appears almost rolled inwards along its length forming what resembles a partially closed tube and is tinted purplish-black towards the centre. The stems can measure up to 50mm and the flowers measure between 4.5-7mm long by 3-4mm wide. The inflorescence is panicle-esk. The fruit resemble cushion-star capsules of length 6-10mm by 5-12 and are slightly beaked but touch-smooth. The leaves by comparison are long and thin (10-105mm X 0.5-2mm wide) and have a prominent midrib. The margins are rolled under and the whole blade is covered in short, fine & tufty hairs. Flowering occurs from September-Jan. Uses:
These small geophytic perennials endure annual regrowth of their stems, particularly (and shortly) after fires followed by the first spring rains. Their presence in the veld may act as an indicator of the biological diversity of the landscape. In truth only 1 in 3 plants in the grassland actually comprises grasses. The rest can be grouped into geophytes, annuals, trees and shrubs. Milkweeds are an important nectar source for bees and other nectar-seeking insects and use three defences to limit damage caused by caterpillars: hairs on the leaves, toxins, and latex fluids.
Milkweeds are beneficial to nearby plants as they repel certain pest invertebrates. The leaves of Asclepias species are the primary food source for monarch butterfly larvae and other milkweed butterflies and thus draw butterflies to gardens. Many Milkweeds also reportedly give off a pleasing fragrance in the early parts of an evening.
Natives of South America and Africa used arrows poisoned with glycosides from Milkweeds during hunts.
The SANBI conservation status for A.stellifera is listed as Least Concern.
Damien Coulson (Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve)
Thunderclouds built over Clarens last evening, accompanied for a short while by a lashing wind. This turned out to be a mere dress rehearsal that produced a paltry shower, despite a few sharp flashes of lightning and some ominous grumbles from threatening looking clouds.
There is little as invigorating as those first fat drops of rain, cold splashes of relief on a sultry Free State afternoon. We’re into the season now for afternoon showers, but our weather pattern has been thrown into disarray this year, with cold spell after cold spell – but with little rain and no snow!
The Free State is well known for its proclivity for going through the motions of a rainstorm without actually producing any rain of note. This area is desperate for rain, so we look to the skies for a promise of it.
But we all know that it is not the dramatic thunderstorms that bring relief to our parched lands. We need steady rain, many days of steady rain, to transform our beautiful landscape into its renowned splendour of summer green. Mary Walker for Clarens News
This is the first Plant of Interest picture taken using the new Powershot SX520.
Sebaea leiostyla is an annual herb whose stems grow to 100mm tall. One will find this herbaceous species in moist grassland areas often in close proximity to cover shrubs and streams at altitudes of 2600 m A.S.L., occurring from the Eastern Cape right through to Mpum.
To spot this little herb one must be prepared to follow one’s curiosity and really get in close to the subject. A camera with a good macro function is useful and could help aid in the identification. The word leio is Latin for smooth, styla Latin for style, in reference to the bare style on which the flowers are born.
The oval leaves of S. leiostyla measure approx. 10-15mm by 6-8mm wide, are scattered and oppositely arranged and appear dark green and somewhat waxy or glossy. The inflorescence is dense and held aloft by simple or branched and mostly bare stems. The flowers are small (5-15mm diam) with a corolla tube that’s usually longer than the petals. The flowers comprise 5 light-mustard yellow petals, partially enclosed by yellow-green sepals. Flowering occurs from Oct-Jan. Uses:
Small they are, but they make a brilliant pot plant or alternatively planted against a wall they make great ornamentals.
Many spp. of the Genus Sedoides have medicinal properties. S. leiodstyla is used by the Sesotho as a snake-bite remedy
The SANBI conservation status for S. leiostyla is listed as Least Concern.
Article and photography by Damien Coulson
Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve
Click here For more information on the Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.
It is with heart rending sadness that I tell you all that Rupa Kalideen passed away on the 6th October after a horrible car accident on the 26th September 2014.
Rupa has been a much loved member of this community for many years and will be remembered for her gentle smile, her kind words, her loving spirit, and her absolute love of nature and our beautiful mountains. Anyone who came into her presence could not help but feel so warmly welcome and had the privilege of spending time with a soul so filled with peace and love for every living thing from plants to people.
For those who shared in Rupa’s gatherings, from candle lit Diwali to talks she so kindly organised and shared with us with Swami Vimokshananda, a Hindu monk originally from India, you will remember her giving and sharing spirit.
To Rupa’s family, my most sincere condolences for the terrible loss you are suffering. Rupa has now moved on to the realm of angels and we all wish her peace on this, her next leg of her great journey.
The Potjiekos Competition in Clarens on Saturday, an annual fundraiser for Cluny Animal Trust, was a greater success than ever. This year they were joined by Old Stone Bottle Store’s Spring Wine Festival, and the Waentjie catered to an alternative taste in fare. Live music was provided by Van Smith and by Denzel & Hensi. A marquee gave welcome shade to the many locals and visitors who gathered around the bench-tables to taste the potjiekos, listen to the music and enjoy the variety of wines on offer.
The cooking started during the early part of the morning, and there were no less than 12 competing teams. The weather was most obliging and the event drew a large number of people. During the cooking stage two preliminary competitions were held, one testing the intellect and the other testing physical skill. The quiz, all about animals, was won by Team Ulwazi, a group from Kgubetswana, and the ball throwing competition was won by Team Ash River Lodge of Clarens.
At lunch time the tasting started. The variety of mouth-watering flavours from the potjies, the lively tunes from the bandstand, and the selection of liquid refreshments on sale made for a heady and festive atmosphere. While latecomers picked at the scrapings at the bottom of the pots, the winners of the cooking competition were announced.
Team Ulwazi impressively took the third prize, Team Latte unsurprisingly beat 10 teams to walk away with the second prize, and the hugely popular Team McLeod stormed in at the number one spot. And so the winning streak of Protea Clarens was broken! Well done to the winner and the two runners-up! And to all the other teams for their fantastic food!
The venue for this year’s event was ideal, the space having been offered by Clarens Interiors in generous community spirit. The combining of the Wine Festival with the Potjie Competition clearly had mutual benefits and provided a great outing for locals and visitors alike – with a feast of good music to boot.